The effects of the Sheltered English Method on ESL college students' academic proficiency

Esther Medina, Fordham University


The teaching and learning of English as a Second Language (ESL) is an educational requirement in Puerto Rico throughout the educational process, including the college level. The challenge of effectively teaching ESL has forced the use of numerous teaching methods. But despite the many efforts to teach ESL effectively in Puerto Rico, a study commissioned by the Ateneo Puertorriqueno (1992) indicated that only one of every five College Board Entrance Examination scores continues to show that students lack basic communication skills in English. To deal with this situation, a content approach to teaching ESL called the Sheltered English Method (SEM) was tested with college students. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the instructional effects of the SEM on the English academic proficiency of ESL college students' academic linguistic proficiency and comprehension of subject matter through the use of second language techniques. Thirty junior college students from the American University of Puerto Rico participated in the quasi-experimental study. The control group used the traditional direct approach, Cognitive-Code Method, to teach literacy, language usage, and listening skills. The experimental group used SEM to teach the same skills through the subject content of the Basic Management I course. The students were administered a (pre- and post-) test to determine the effects of the SEM on students' academic English proficiency. The Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency, the Comprehensive English Language Test (Listening Section), and the Holistic Communicative Profile Scale were used as pre- and posttests to estimate the students' English academic proficiency scores and the effects of the instructional methods. The results of this study showed positive effects of SEM on ESL college students' English academic proficiency. Although the students who participated in the SEM showed greater English academic improvement than the students who participated in the Cognitive-Code group in reading, listening, and grammar skills, they particularly showed a significant difference in writing and vocabulary skills.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Curricula|Teaching|Language|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Medina, Esther, "The effects of the Sheltered English Method on ESL college students' academic proficiency" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9708263.